The Tick is a spot-on superhero spoof. Adapted from a comic book, this mid-1990s cartoon about a big, blue, dim-witted superhero features good, witty writing that probably went over the heads of the kids who were watching Saturday-morning TV. (Luckily, some of us adults watched it, too.)
The first season of this show (most of it, anyway) is now available on DVD, but with no special features.
The Tick is simply The Tick. He has no alter ego. He wears a blue bodysuit, which shows off his huge muscles. His antennae, part of the costume, have no apparent function, though they occasionally reflect his emotional state. He can’t fly, but he can leap to the top of tall buildings in a single bound. His favorite mode of transportation is to run across the tops of these buildings, leaving craters in his wake. He patrols The City, with the help of other superheroes, such as Die Fledermaus (a lazy, vain version of Batman) and the Civic-Minded Five (whose catchphrase is “Let’s Make a Difference!”).
All superheroes must have a weakness, and The Tick’s is his lack of intelligence. Fortunately, he has a sidekick named Arthur, who was fired from his accounting job for wearing a moth costume to work. Headquartered in Arthur’s apartment (where Tick sleeps on the couch), the two save The City from one outlandish supervillain after another. While The Tick goes off to “pound two-fisted justice into the hearts of evildoers everywhere,” Arthur tries to keep him from making too much of a mess of things.
As The Tick’s voice, Townsend Coleman gives him the perfect heroic timbre. When The Tick starts pontificating about being a justice sandwich or scolding bad guys (“Your culinary crime wave has crashed against the shores of justice,” he tells The Breadmaster), there is no doubt that our hero is absolutely sincere.
The only additional features on DVD set are advertisements for coming attractions. Tick fans hoping to learn more about his various incarnations will have to check fan websites. Given that there are no true special features, it seems unnecessary to spread 12 episodes, at approximately 21 minutes each, over two discs. It should also be noted that one episode from season one, “The Tick vs The Mole-Men,” isn’t included in this set. (Speculation on the fan sites has it that there were unresolved copyright issues regarding a similar villain in another comic book series, but don’t quote me on that.)
Picture and Sound
The animation quality is about as good as can be expected from a Saturday morning cartoon. That is, it’s nowhere near as good a theatrical movie, but it’s better than many Hanna-Barbera offerings. Still, the DVD picture is probably much better than those episodes you taped off the TV 10 years ago.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 surround sound is adequate, but not spectacular. The canned music is typical of television cartoon fare, though the theme music — sort of a 1950’s beatnik jazz theme — is entertaining.
How to Use this DVD
Just put it in and select “play all” in the main menu. Keep the pause button handy to look for jokes in the background.